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MyPlate serves new nutrition guidelines

MyPlate serves new nutrition guidelines

Both children and adults in the United States seem to do their best to avoid eating as many fruits and vegetables as they should, and the recent deadly E. Coli outbreak in Europe gave them an added excuse to leave these items off of their plate.  Against these odds, the USDA released its new nutrition symbol, MyPlate, as an attempt to get people in the U.S. to do just that: eat more fruits and vegetables. MyPlate, which replaces the much maligned MyPyramid (above, left) that was released in 2005, has already received a warm reception on The New York Times editorial page.

The new design (see below), unveiled at a press conference on June 2nd by First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, takes the shape of a dinner plate divided into four quadrants (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Protein) indicating the ideal proportions for a healthy diet. A small circle in the upper right-hand corner represents Dairy.

Both the First Lady and Agriculture Secretary emphasized the simplicity of the symbol’s design and the importance of using it to combat the obesity epidemic in the U.S. The USDA’s accompanying website ( is designed to educate people on all aspects of a nutritious diet, emphasizing smaller portions, whole grains, and making “half your plate fruits and vegetables.

While the efficacy of these types of symbols is often debated, it is worth remembering that beyond having an impact on the health of individuals, a meat heavy diet across a population as large as the United States has serious implications for global climate change and food security. Livestock requires more aggregate water resources and land to produce than fruits, vegetables, and grain, and the United States is one of the largest consumers of meat in the world. If nothing else, the USDA’s stated goals for MyPlate align with a broader vision of a more sustainable global food system.

MyPlate serves new nutrition guidelines

Posted by Adam Read-Brown.

Image credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture